Paul Martin's shadow PMO
Paul Martin's legions of staffers are set to take over the most powerful office in the land
While other leadership contenders for the Liberal throne have barely gotten out of the gates, Paul Martin has been leagues ahead of the game for years thanks in large part to the impressive political team that has assembled under his tent, complete with a range of strategists, bagmen, and spin gurus and four campaign offices now open across the country.
Although Mr. Martin (LaSalle Émard, Que.) and his backers have locked-up enough support to make the race to replace outgoing Prime Minister Jean Chrétien a joke, there are few signs his many minions are ready to let their collective guards down. Their immediate concern is to make sure their boss amasses enough delegate votes at next fall's planned leadership convention on Nov. 10-16 in Toronto to win the Liberal leadership and become the next Prime Minister of Canada.
This slow and painstaking work has continued unabated for over a decade from various bases across the country, most recently from a headquarters in Ottawa's Little Italy neighbourhood where a fleet of paid and volunteer staff toil day in and day out. Three other "satellite" offices have been created in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.
All have been set up to funnel in donations, organize membership drives, and devise policy and communication strategies.
Brian Guest, a spokesperson working out of the Ottawa office, explained that Mr. Martin needs all this help because he lost most of his support network after he was fired from Cabinet last June.
"Paul Martin is not a member of the Cabinet. He does not have the support that a member of Cabinet would have," he said in an interview. "He requires excellence in being briefed and support and the type of support on issues speech making, travel plans, logistical support, have to be recreated from scratch for the Paul Martin campaign.
"Others [Cabinet ministers] enjoy the full support a department and as a result we must replicate the professionalism and excellence that is there to support a top-flight candidate."
Earnscliffe Strategy Group and McCarthy Tetrault have dished out a total of $92,091.02 in "in-kind contributions" to the Martin campaign between July and November, 2003 for salaries and services. More will be disclosed again, expected on Jan. 11.
Scott Reid, a communications consultant at Earnscliffe and one of Mr. Martin's media handlers, told The Hill Times that there are up to 25 paid, full-time staffers working on the campaign across the country. He added that the campaign also benefits from the help of "hundreds of volunteers."
Mr. Reid, however, would not talk in detail about how many people are being paid or what they are doing for the campaign. He said that such "plumbing and strategic issues" are not fit for public consumption.
Ottawa campaign office
Brian Guest Paul Martin's director of communications before he was bounced from Cabinet, Mr. Guest, along with his predecessor Scott Reid, remains one of Mr. Martin's chief spokespeople. Sharp, and savvy, before his arrival on the Hill almost three years ago, Mr. Guest, who is in his mid 30s, used to ply his trade as a communications strategist in Ottawa Mayor Bob Chiarelli's office, working side-by-side with chief of staff Brendan McGuinty, brother of Ontario Grit leader Dalton McGuinty. The pair earned the nickname the "Killer Bs" around City Hall.
Melanie Gruer Formerly Mr. Martin's press secretary, she is also on the front lines of spin control but unlike Mr. Guest or Mr. Reid her name rarely shows up in print. At most media events featuring Mr. Martin, including his sporadic appearances on the Hill, she is never far behind, usually controlling his access to reporters. She hails from the Finance Department where she was recruited to work for Mr. Martin as his press secretary prior to his departure from Cabinet.
Tim Murphy Formerly Mr. Martin's chief of staff, he was a top organizer in Ontario for Mr. Martin during the 1990 federal Liberal leadership race. Mr. Murphy also spent years working in the turbulent waters of Ontario politics as an MPP and then as president of the provincial Liberal Party. He is seen as one of the cooler heads among the Martinites and was instrumental in hatching a deal with Senator David Smith chairman of the PM's last two election campaigns to solve the ongoing dispute over access to party memberships in Ontario last year. The feud started when Martin supporters brought in new rules to control the distribution of application forms in the fall of 2003, causing Industry Minister Allan Rock to lash out publicly at Mr. Martin.
Jim Pimblett Another of Mr. Martin's erstwhile ministerial staffers, Mr. Pimblett served as a legislative assistant and is now said to assist the campaign in a variety of ways, such as travelling with Mr. Martin and making sure he gets to events on time.
Kevin Bosch Currently working as the campaign's director of research, he was plucked from Jane Stewart's office last September and was the subject of an interesting column by Don Martin from the National Post last September that portrayed him a savvy and bare-knuckles researcher. One of those rare Alberta Liberals, Mr. Bosch knows where all the bodies are buried when it comes to the Alliance Party and played a key role in the Liberals' attack of Stockwell Day, the Alliance's former ill-fated leader. Mr. Bosch's expertise of the Western-based movement makes him a great addition to the campaign, considering Mr. Martin's biggest opposition for the foreseeable future will come from the Alliance.
David Brodie Currently working as director of operations, this former ministerial staffer also hails from Alberta. Paul Martin hired him as a western assistant three years ago after he spent several years working in his home province with a number of Liberal politicians, such as former MLA Nick Taylor (who later was appointed to the Senate and retired in November). Mr. Brodie also worked for former Liberal MP Judy Bethel and was once president of the Alberta Young Liberals.
Ruth Thorkelson This former chief of staff who preceded Tim Murphy has a desk in the Ottawa office while continuing to hold a day job at the Forest Products Association of Canada. She started working for Paul Martin in 1994 as a special assistant and used to be a public policy consultant with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
Michèle Cadario Also a former ministerial staffer from Paul Martin's days as finance minister, she is said to be focusing her energies on organizing membership drives country-wide and splits her time between the Ottawa and Toronto campaign offices.
Jackie Leroux A recent addition to the campaign, this former reporter and columnist for the Ottawa Sun was brought on board to do speech writing.
Jeffery Copenace Another of Mr. Martin's former ministerial aides, he is now said to be charged with aboriginal outreach.
Marilyn Floyd A newcomer, she is the campaign's youth coordinator and active on campuses.
Toronto Campaign Office
Karl Littler One of Martin's biggest organizers in Central Canada, the 40-year-old from Oakville, Ont., has been long associated with Paul Martin, starting to work for him in 1993 as a legislative assistant after graduating from law school. During budget consultations, he was one of Mr. Martin's key advisers on tax and financial issues. Often seen as the bète noir of the campaign, he's proven time and time again that he's a hard-nosed operator once he hits the campaign trail. He's credited for having orchestrated the controversial changes to the membership forms the previous fall that gave almost complete control over their distribution to riding associations -- most of which are Martin-controlled -- by limiting the number the provincial headquarters can hand out to campaign workers from five to just one.
John Webster This Toronto-based executive is heading Mr. Martin's leadership campaign this time around. He's a long-time Liberal with ties dating back to former prime minister John Turner's years in office.
Mike Klander This former Ontario federal Liberal Party backroom player used to organize in Ontario for Brian Tobin's leadership bid before the former industry minister suddenly quit politics. However, because he's long been considered a supporter of Paul Martin, his transition to Mr. Martin's team raised few eye-brows. He used to be the executive director of the Liberal Party's Ontario wing.
Johanna Leffler This former ministerial staffer is said to be working on organizing membership drives in Ontario, dividing her time between Ottawa and Toronto offices.
Pam Gutteridge Not a former staffer, is charged with the nuts and bolts of the campaign.
Vancouver Campaign Office
Mark Marissen Mr. Marissen has a lengthy connection with the Liberal Party, and used to work for David Anderson when he was revenue minister. During the mid-1990s, he was in charge of campaign services for the party's National Campaign Committee, and he's also the former national director of the Young Liberals of Canada. He also had a hand in editing The Liberal Times. Mr. Marissen is also married to B.C.'s Deputy Premier Christy Clark.
Ann Wicks -- Another of Mr. Anderson's former staffers. Two years ago, she was hired to work in the Environment Minister's regional office in Vancouver.
Doug Beaton -- Mr. Beaton is a staffer working in the Vancouver office.
Montreal Campaign Office
Pietro Perrino Mr. Martin's main organizer in Quebec, he spends his days organizing membership drives in the vote-rich province which has 75 ridings.
Lucie Castelli This former staffer used to work for Mr. Martin in his riding office in Montreal.
Staffers and Advisers at Large
Mike Robinson He headed Mr. Martin's 1990 leadership campaign team and is considered to be part of the old guard among the many Martinites. As a partner at Earnscliffe where he lobbies for several companies with close ties to the government, he has a high visibility and appears often in the media to defend Mr. Martin. He's also had a regular seat on Don Newman's political panel on his Politics show on CBC Newsworld. His presence there is a source of annoyance to some Liberals who believe he is too close to Mr. Martin to faithfully represent the Liberal Party.
Scott Reid Formerly Paul Martin's director of communications, this straight-talking native of Belleville, Ont., is a long-time Liberal with experience at both the provincial and federal levels. He did some communications work in the 1995 Ontario provincial election campaign for the Liberals. His name is often seen in the print media as an official spokesperson for Mr. Martin. He left Mr. Martin's ministerial office to work for Earnscliffe a couple of years ago.
Leslie Swartman A former PMO press officer under Mr. Chrétien, Ms. Swartman also did communications for former trade minister Sergio Marchi for several years before returning to Earnscliffe as a communications consultant. The campaign often turns to her in a pinch, such as during the Liberal caucus retreat in Chicoutimi last August when Melanie Gruer had to leave unexpectedly because of a family emergency.
David Herle One of Mr. Martin's former executive assistants, he also worked with the former finance minister at Canada Steamship Lines and now does strategic communications at Earnscliffe.
Terrie O'Leary - She has remained one of Paul Martin's trusted advisers since leaving as his chief of staff in 1998 for a top job at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. She was a key organizer for Mr. Martin when he ran for leadership of the party in 1990 and will no doubt be by his side when he runs for leader again.
Elly Elboim Another adviser working out of Earnscliffe, this former CBC Parliament Hill bureau chief is one of Mr. Martin's most important advisers. Mr. Elboim, considered brilliant, also teaches journalism at Carleton University where his off-the-record lectures on Canadian politics are said to be fascinating and illuminating.
Jonathon Moser: A 30-year-old native of Kamloops, B.C., Mr. Moser was former public works minister Alfonso Gagliano's legislative assistant. He tried to win the Liberal nomination in his hometown riding for the 2000 federal election but his ties to Mr. Martin created problems for him. His back in Ottawa working for Summa Strategies, a public relations firm, and pitches in on the campaign when it rolls into town.
John Duffy Works in Toronto for Strategy Corp, a government relations and communications firm he founded and has been actively involved in the Liberal Party. He worked as speech writer and policy advisor for Mr. Martin in his 1990 leadership bid and later joined the drafting team working on the Liberal's 1993 Red Book election platform. Most recently, he wrote the successful Fight of our Lives: Elections, Leadership and the Making of Canada, a book examining some of the most pivotal federal elections in Canadian history.
Jamie Deacy This Liberal strategist is the man behind Mr. Martin's hugely successful individual fundraisers campaign. A lobbyist who runs his own government relations company, Association House, he's remained out of the public eye and likes it that way. He has had a very busy schedule of late, directing an estimated 12 fundraising committees across the country and organizing a series of individual fundraisers at a rate of over one a week since last September.
The Hill Times